#SPFBO Review : Legacy of the Brightwash (Tainted Dominion #1) by Krystle Matar 

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LOTBW_FNL_PRINT_6x9Stage 2 of the  SPFBO competition is now well underway and the Critiquing Chemist and I have been reading the finalists.  Today we post our review for the second finalist we read: Legacy of the Brightwash (Tainted Dominion #1) by Krystle Matar.  Don’t forget to stop over to the Critiquing Chemist to check out their review.

Legacy of the Brightwash is a story that definitely left me conflicted.  On the one hand, as I started to read I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the writing and the sharp contrast between that and the world being described.  I mean, literally, I adore the way Matar turns a phrase.  It’s as though she’s writing just for me and I love that feeling.  On the other hand, and whilst I can’t fault the author for the love of this world and the characters, I felt that there was too much padding.  I have no problem reading weighty tomes and at not much shy of 700 pages this is certainly something of a door stopper, but I do have a problem when they feel weighty and for me this one dragged its feet a little.

Brightwash is the name of the river that runs through the City of Yaelsmuir that belongs to a grouping of various states known as Dominion. As the story begins we make the acquaintance of a Regulation Officer known as Tashue.  Regulation Officers work for the Authority responsible for keeping the population within the letter of the law and Tashue is almost regimental in the way he maintains his duty without deviation.  The early chapters set us on the course of a murder mystery.  The body of a mutilated young child washes up on the river banks, the only mark a tattoo on the back of the neck and Tashue is determined to discover the identity of the person responsible for this atrocity.  One thing that seems strangely coincidental is that the body seems to be down river of the facility used to imprison those who have fallen foul of the law.  

By way of background some of the people within the Dominion have what is known as ‘talent’ or quite often the more disparaging term ‘tainted’ is used.  This is a form of ability that gives the users certain specialities and there are also differing strengths of ‘talent’.  For many years the authorities have oppressed those with such ability.  All talent users are required to register with the Authority, they are assigned case officers and regularly monitored.  Talent can be used for operating machinery, lighting street lights or helping to cure diseases or other injuries.  Non compliance leads to incarceration in the Rift, a prison not renowned for it’s gentle approach.  Unfortunately for Tashue his son Jason has been imprisoned in the Rift for three years for failure to comply and he fears that something terrible will eventually befall him.

The world building is really good.  I love the idea of the Dominion and the magic of the talented.  Without doubt this is a grim and seedy world with plenty of morally grey characters.  For the most part the majority of the people feel subdued or beaten down by life apart from the small percentage who live at the other end of the extreme.  

Matar has given her story a political stance with the character Tashue being roped into campaigning being paraded around events and the like as a war hero.  This is not something that Tashue is fond of but he’s manipulated into taking part with all sorts of talk of improvements, more authority officers to help with heavy workloads and perhaps better conditions for his son.

On top of this there is a romantic element to the story with the introduction of Stella Whiterock and her young daughter.  Stella is a woman with Talent  who has captured the attention and heart of Tashue, a feeling that she returns.  This is part of the storyline that feeds into the overall disillusionment  that Tashue begins to experience as his eyes are finally open to the prejudice and harsh treatment of those judged to be different.

Clearly there is a lot to explore here with background stories, political sidelines, the whole setting out of the world and the abilities of those with Talent and I think the author does a great job in bringing all these things together so well.  Why the mixed feelings then?

As I mentioned above, I think this is quite simply too long and whilst it clearly demonstrates the love that Matar has for this world and the characters it feels almost like too much book for the story being told.  As I already mentioned, I loved the writing and was also really intrigued by the mystery but every time I thought things were going to take off they went off on a tangent and this constant roller coaster of tacking along slowly followed by a rush of speed followed by another tack in progress, well, it pulled me out of the read in fact I found myself losing interest.  Also, to be fair to the author, the romance here plays quite a central role, particularly in swaying the beliefs of Tashue and helping to nudge along his disillusionment, and romance is something that I can take or leave.  I don’t mind a romance as part of a story but I prefer it to take a backseat as opposed to being fairly central and I can see that the author was going for a slow burn romance with the gradual build of tension but, again, in keeping with my other feelings this just felt too drawn out.  

Overall, the writing is lovely, the world is intriguing and this is without doubt a character led drama which is something I enjoy.  I think it could be tightened to make the story have a little more punch and I wasn’t enamoured by the romance but this is a personal preference.  I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading this.  This is a talented author and definitely one to keep a close eye on.

I received a copy courtesy of the author for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 6 out of 10 or 3 out of 5 for Goodreads.

The Critiquing Chemist rating is 6 out of 10

Our average rating is 6